Wage Hike: Yay or Nay?

The debate over the state’s minimum wage can go in two directions, according to Buffalo attorney Kevin Burke. Some people are in favor of higher wages and see it as a need for lower-income workers and their families while organizations such as national and state business councils fear the worst, he said.

 The wage debate is taking over the restaurant and hospitality industry from coast to coast and the law varies from cities to states. Putting these laws in place are important to protect employees as well as employers. Per a recent article, as Seattle began to phase in its $15-per-hour minimum wage in April, pay for hourly workers has been a top issue in other parts of the country, including California, New York and Massachusetts.

In Los Angeles, city officials and the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors are studying a proposed plan by Mayor Eric Garcetti to boost wages to $13.25 per hour by 2017, and to $15.25 per hour by 2019.

Meanwhile, in Oakland, Calif., the minimum wage climbed from $9 per hour to $12.25 per hour on March 2.

San Francisco will join Oakland in May with a wage increase to $12.25 per hour, in the first phase of a gradual increase to $15 per hour by 2018.

Some states are also weighing the inequities between tipped and non-tipped workers.

In California, which does not have a tip credit, a bill sponsored by the California Restaurant Association would invalidate local minimum wage laws for servers earning tips amounting to at least $15 per hour.

The state has already approved a minimum wage increase of $10 per hour by January 2016. Under proposed Assembly Bill 669, the wage for tipped employees would remain $9 per hour, as long as they earn at least $15 per hour including tips.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Massachusetts lawmakers are considering legislation that would eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers by 2022.

This year, the state’s wage began climbing from $8 to $11 per hour by 2017. Tipped workers will see the wage floor also gradually increase, from $2.63 to $3.75 per hour.

Under new legislation proposed as an addendum to the bill, the wage for tipped workers would continue to climb until the two-tiered system is abolished by 2022.

In New York, however, a proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.50 per hour, and $11.50 in New York City, is apparently a casualty of a budget agreement unveiled last week, which has disappointed wage-hike supporters there.

The wage hike affects employees and employers differently. An employee totally benefits from the wage hike. Restaurant owners are debating if they will have to increase their menu item prices to offset the increase in labor costs. Now the question is whether or not customers will tip less after the wage increase. It depends on the place you work, and what type of customers it draws.

What are your feelings about the wage hike?

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